New 3D-printed prosthetic leg features carbon fiber definitive socket

Additive manufactured thermoplastic carbon fiber definitive prosthetic socket allows for life cycle adjustments without weakening its structure


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A new 3D-printed prosthetic leg from TriFusion Devices (College Station, TX, US), a subsidiary of BASF (Florham Park, NJ, US) and Essentium Inc. (College Station, TX, US), features a thermoplastic carbon fiber definitive prosthetic socket that allows for life cycle adjustments without weakening its structure – which isn’t easily accomplished with traditional sockets.

The prosthetic leg is printed with BASF’s Ultramid polyamide reinforced with short carbon fiber. The definitive socket is made with thermoplastic material and allows for small adjustments to ensure a comfortable fit for patients – the socket can be adjusted in 2-3mm increments as needed throughout the prosthetic’s life cycle. The technology allows for a quicker turn around as well as the 3D printing helps streamline the process.

“The materials used in these definitive sockets have the power to open up people’s lives to more mobility and more freedom,” says Blake Teipel, president and co-founder of Essentium, Inc. “As we propel 3D printing of functional parts, we’re proud to make a prosthetic that’s more customized, lightweight, affordable and comfortable for the patient, and make the production process easier and more efficient for the clinician.”

BASF and Essentium partnered with Anew Life Prosthetics and Orthopedics (Detroit, MI, US) to validate the prosthetic. Anew Life’s owner Chris Casteel is uniquely qualified as a partner as he is a clinician, former manufacturing professional and an amputee. He worked with patients to test the sockets and provided input to improve material selection and the 3D printing process.

“Just like anything else, it’s one thing to hear about a product like this, but another thing to actually feel and touch it,” says Casteel. “We received extremely positive feedback from patients on the 3D-printed test sockets and it is incredible to see and feel how well they fit. This is a huge success for the prosthetic industry and I look forward to seeing what comes next.”

The TriFusion prosthetic leg featuring 3D-printed carbon fiber socket will be on display at NPE2018.